Specialist, ultrafast broadband provider Quickline Communications Limited (“Quickline”) and Northleaf Capital Partners (“Northleaf”), a Toronto-headquartered global private markets investment firm, today announced that funds managed by Northleaf completed the previously announced acquisition of a majority share in Yorkshire-based Quickline’s holding company, QCL Holdings Limited.
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Quickline’s management team, as well as Bigblu Broadband (AIM: BBB.L) and Harwood Capital have retained minority stakes in the company.
The acquisition further underscores Quickline’s reputation as a frontrunner in complex, rural connectivity requirements. Quickline’s strategy includes a plan to invest more than £500m to provide ultrafast and gigabit-capable broadband connectivity in rural Northern England and beyond.
Quickline expects to provide ultrafast broadband accessibility to more than 500,000 rural premises in the coming years by expanding its market-leading, gigabit-capable, next-generation hybrid network. New 5G capabilities will be a first of its kind in the UK, with the start of a large-scale, full fibre rollout to complement this in remote areas.
To reduce the digital divide, Quickline will use an innovative hybrid approach of utilising 5G and a fibre to the premise (“FTTP”) network for a cost effective, technical solution. This has enabled Quickline to secure four multi-million-pound Building Digital UK (BDUK) contracts to supply next-generation internet access in places that other operators have largely ignored.
Quickline is also working alongside local authorities and UK Government to help remote communities, with subsidies providing much-needed assistance in the promotion of large-scale investment in gigabit-capable networks. Quickline is at present upgrading digital infrastructures across North Lincolnshire, Lincolnshire, West and North Yorkshire.
Sean Royce, Quickline’s newly appointed CEO, said: “This is a major turning point in Quickline’s history and sets us even further apart from other ultrafast broadband providers.
“Receiving this kind of investment from Northleaf provides us with the ability to supply life-changing gigabit-capable broadband to hundreds of thousands of rural customers that previously were unable to access the internet at speed. We look forward to working alongside Northleaf to create this unique hybrid next-generation network, provide hundreds of jobs and build a business that provides new breakthroughs in internet connectivity for broadband users in remote pockets of the UK.”
Roderick Gadsby, Head of Northleaf’s infrastructure activities in the UK and Europe, said: “We are delighted that the acquisition has been successfully completed. Quickline is an excellent fit with our communications infrastructure investment strategy and offers our investors exposure to an attractive and growing sector.
“The evolution of the industry is being led by the likes of Quickline, which has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Quickline plans to utilise both full fibre and 5G fixed wireless technologies to accelerate the deployment of gigabit-capable broadband in remote UK regions which will provide critical infrastructure to rural communities in its target markets.”
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “I welcome this substantial investment in Quickline. It will help us build back better by connecting more than half a million rural homes and businesses to top-of-the-range broadband speeds by 2025.
“Boosting connections in rural communities is crucial to our plans to level up Britain, and we’re working alongside commercial providers to plug in hard-to-reach homes and businesses through our £5 billion Project Gigabit scheme.”
Cllr Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access at North Yorkshire County Council, which established its own high-speed internet service provider NYnet in 2007, added: “We are committed to continuing to bring access to superfast broadband for our residents and businesses across North Yorkshire with our SFNY project. The latest phase of the programme being delivered by Quickline is vital as we extend connectivity to more premises in the most rural areas of the county.
“Communities are currently experiencing first-hand our and Quickline’s commitment to securing the future of digital connectivity in all our towns and villages. The transformation, especially in our more secluded communities is a key factor for improving our economy and employment prospects.”
Notes to editors
Quickline is focussed on delivering improved broadband connectivity in rural areas of the north of England and beyond where a significant digital divide remains and many hundreds of thousands of premises are in desperate need of increased broadband speeds.
Quickline is a Yorkshire-based internet service provider, with its heritage in fixed wireless but its network includes increasing amounts of full fibre connectivity, as well as rural-delivered 5G technology. Its aim is to be the leading UK-dedicated, rural broadband infrastructure provider, delivering innovative, flexible and hybrid solutions that can address the millions of premises unlikely to be served commercially by full fibre networks for many years to come. For more information on Quickline, visit www.quickline.co.uk.
About Northleaf Capital Partners
Northleaf Capital Partners is a global private markets investment firm with US$16 billion in private equity, private credit and infrastructure commitments under management on behalf of public, corporate and multi-employer pension plans, endowments, foundations, financial institutions and family offices.
Northleaf’s 150-person team, located in Toronto, Montreal, London, New York, Chicago, Menlo Park and Melbourne, is focused exclusively on sourcing, evaluating and managing private markets investments globally. Northleaf’s portfolio includes more than 400 active investments in 40 countries, with a focus on mid-market companies and assets. For more information on Northleaf, visit www.northleafcapital.com.